All over in the Commonwealth, the months of August and September are considered as “Legal Vacation.” During these two months, the Superior Courts – High, Appeal and Supreme – they go on break, and lawyers and Judges take their “leave”. During this period, time does not run, per se, and things are very relaxed.
As for the lower Courts – the District and Circuit Courts – they continue to operate fully, except that wearing of wigs and gowns are relaxed.
Most lawyers, including me, try to use the legal vacation to catch up with piled up office work – drafting of pleadings, wills, contracts and so on, in a relaxed manner.
And so it was that Tuesday 4 September 2018, I drove leisurely to the office, only to be told by my senior, Charles Ofori that: “Effah Dee, you have to rush to Kibi Court to apply for bail for somebody.”
I checked the time: 8:30 am, Jesus Christ! The courts start work at 8:30am and from here to Kibi will at least take one hour. “Driver” Move on! We are going to Kyebi – hurry!
We left our Asylum Down Office, hit Kojo Thompson road then got to Joy FM and saw a little crowd – what is happening? Some rasta haired man, police …………. Driver, move on!
Achimota, Pokuase – I saw the interchange works going on, Nsawam bypass, then as we zoomed along – Police! Halt! They were holding some machine, and told us that we were over speeding.
We parked obediently, and the Police Sergeant walked to the car – when he saw me, he said: Oh, Counsel! You are overspeeding – we want you alive. Driver, wherever you are going, take your time. Go!
We got to Suhum.
For a very long time, over twenty years, SUHUM – Asamankese junction has been a major death trap and a nightmare for all drivers. There has not been a week that an accident had not occurred there.
I will never forget a mishap during my tenure as the Deputy Minister for Local Government. The NPP DCE for Tumu, Mrs. Florence Bentie Yeyie, her daughter in law and her grandchild had travelled all the way from TUMU on their way to Accra and at Suhum, they fell into that death trap; their pick-up vehicle on which they were travelling crashed and all three of them died, leaving the driver.
Their corpses were sent to the 37 Military Hospital and I remember the day I went to the mortuary and saw their caskets, including a casket for the baby; all provided by the NPP Government, and we airlifted them in a military plane, led by my boss, then Minister, the late Kwadwo Baah Wiredu, for a state funeral at Tumu.
The Government of Ghana decided to eliminate the death trap, and so a good amount of money was spent to build a state of the art overhead speedway across the very busy junction. It was completed TWO YEARS ago, during the era of President John Mahama – but still, the overhead is not open to traffic.
Why? I don’t understand.
After Suhum, we got to the Apedwa Junction and turned left, passed through Wirenkyiren Amanfrom, the famous death trap of POTROASE, the village in the valley, situated in a major curve, which is a terrible nightmare for all trucks.
Since the year 2000 when the Apedwa – Bunso bypass was constructed, I had never used that road to Kyebi so I was very surprised to see that AKWADUM village, which used to be two kilometers away from Kyebi is now a suburb of the Kyebi municipality – with very executive ultra modern buildings on both sides of the road.
We were in Kyebi.
The white man could not pronounce KYEBI so he corrupted it to KIBI; the capital of Akyem Abuakwa, the home of Okyehene; for a long time the bitter rivals of the Asante imperial power in the West Coast of Africa. Historically, the Akims were extremely very powerful – they killed Osei Tutu I, while he was crossing River Pra; they killed one of the Akwamu overlords, and completely destroyed the AKWAMU CAPITAL, Nyanawuse, forcing my ancestors in 1731 to cross the Volta to Akwamufie. A splinter group fled upwards, to Awaso where two hundred years later, I was born to an AKWAMU WOMAN, in Jinijini.
I saw a woman in a voluptuously endowed backside in military green trousers, walking smartly escorting her daughter:
“Good morning, Madam. Where is the Kyebi Court?”
“Oh, just that building ahead of you.”
I got down at the Court, and as I was talking to my client, I was told : “ there comes the Judge” whereupon I saw a solid, powerful black 4×4 car, fully air-conditioned, pulled up, and out came the Judge, with the physique of a High Court Judge – tall, noble, urbane, neatly dressed. She saw me, bowed in acknowledgement and I saluted “Good morning my lord”.
The Kyebi District Court is a very interesting building. It is a public-private storey building, with the ground floor looking very palatial, with offices and a courtroom with huge verandas and offices.
Then, reader, a huge top floor which is residential with children running up and down!
I wonder who lives there – staff of the Judicial Service?
I entered the court – reader, am I in 21st Century Ghana or 1894 District Akim Abuakwa courtroom? A huge bench sprawled along the entire frontage, with very antique tables and benches, a witness stand and a long enclosure for the dock – as I sat down, I imagined the famous JB Danquah of blessed memory, practicing as a lawyer in the “Colony” of Gold Coast, circa 1950, seated on one of the long benches reserved for lawyers and prosecutors.
The least that the Judicial Service can do to honour the current President, who is a lawyer, is to modernize the courtroom – I am not asking for computers but at least modern furniture to make the courtroom look befitting for the President’s hometown!
After the case, I took a good look at the streets of Kyebi – well paved, asphaltic, neat, and I could imagine the recent cultural invasion of Kyebi when Otumfuo, the Asantehene came with a bombastic entourage of 2000 people carried in 22 4×4 land cruisers and 15 VVIP executive buses!
Kyebi is indeed a historic town, worthy of preservation for posterity.
By Nkrabeah Effah Dartey